Advent Carol: Angelus ad Virginem

I love hymns and carols, and currently this one is playing in my head–mostly because I am getting ready for Advent. (What, you don’t know many songs for Advent? Better learn this, stat!) This song sounds like a Christmas carol, but it is all about the Annunciation, so it’s absolutely delightful to sing while waiting for Christmas. You’ll see!

Angelus ad Virginem
Sub intrans in conclave,
Virginis formidinem
Demulcens, inquit: Ave!
Ave regina virginum;
Caeli terraeque Dominum
Concipies
Et paries intacta
Salutem hominum;
Tu porta caeli facta,
Medela criminum.

Verse 1 of 5, Angelus ad Virginem

Fun facts about this piece: Came to Britain via France in the 1200s–and so there is a Middle English version (the English of Chaucer). “Gabriel fram Heven-King / Sent to the Maide sweete…” And speaking of Chaucer, this very song is mentioned in The Canterbury Tales (it is sung by a character in “The Miller’s Tale”). As you can see, this song has certainly stood the test of time!

Sheet music for this lovely piece is at the Choral Public Domain Library, (Look under the header “Single Monophonic Setting” for a printable PDF for the melody line with text.)

Here are translation practice pages for you to try your hand at reading the Latin text, which is quite different in parts than the Middle English version, which it seems the English translation at CPDL.org (linked above) was translated from, rather than using the original Latin. (See Wikipeida’s entry for an English translation based on the Latin!)

And finally, here is a beautiful translation of the hymn text by the great Victorian poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, which I hope you will enjoy after attempting yours!

As Advent draws near, I hope this beautiful song helps you enjoy the time of year in a spirit of medieval Latin.

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